The Look East policy of India has now become Act East’ stated the Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee adding further that India was now looking to strengthen strategic and economic ties with the Pacific island nations including New Zealand. India would work in the direction of establishing firm ties with New Zealand on all fronts, the President affirmed during his visit to New Zealand.
On Saturday last, the President arrived in New Zealand on a three-day visit. Pranab Mukherjee is the first ever Indian head of state to visit New Zealand. Speaking to the media, he highlighted the importance of bilateral ties between the two nations. Prior to this visit, the Indian President was on a two-day visit to Papua New Guinea during which he announced a deal of extending an Indian line of credit of USD 100 million towards the Infrastructure Fund in Papua New Guinea.
During his visit to New Zealand, Pranab Mukherjee clarified that relations with all Pacific Island Nations had gained greater salience for India. The Indian Look East policy having turned into Act East, India has had increasingly firm ties with the South-East Asian countries although its relations with the Pacific Island countries are equally important for India, stated the Indian President. The Indian trade for the most part happens via the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean lines and meets by far, the Indian fuel requirement, said the Indian President, underlining the significance of the relations with the Pacific Island nations.
This region holds a large potential for trade and strategic ties and India was eager about free trade with New Zealand, he maintained, sharing also that he had also discussed the issue with John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
The President’s three-day visit included meets with the Governor General of New Zealand Sir Jerry Mateparae, Prime Minister John Key and leader of the opposition, Andrew Little. A deal opening the doors for direct flights between the two countries was among those signed on this visit.
The talks also covered co-operation on the defense front and the President also addressed Indians residing in New Zealand.